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One of the best parts of a good road trip – besides kicking your feet up and turning the music up loud – is stumbling across the unexpected, off-kilter roadside attractions that dot the U.S. These  pieces of Americana are peculiar enough to make you want to veer off the beaten path and scratch your head in disbelief.

In Niles, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, you’ll find a Midwestern take on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for example. Dating back to 1934, it sports a 15-foot lean — just like the original — even if it’s a mere 94 feet tall.

Speaking of landmarks, the original London Bridge is in Havasu City, Ariz. Built in 1831, it spanned the Thames until the middle of the last century when an oil baron had the 950-foot icon disassembled and relocated to its current resting place.

Unbeknownst to most, America’s largest lake, known as the Lost Sea, is tucked 140 feet below Sweetwater, Tennessee. Descend to see 20,000-year-old jaguar tracks and take a glass-bottom boat ride to explore.

Heading in a different direction, there’s always the aptly named Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts. It is, in fact, a house made with paper, glue and — for good measure — varnish. Incidentally, it does feature a wood frame, wood floors and a shingled roof.

Drive down lonely Route 50 by the town of Middlegate, Nevada, to see the Shoe Tree, where endless pairs of sneakers hang from the tree branches thanks to tourists and locals hoping to enliven the barren stretch.

Arguably even more peculiar, though, is the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas. Started back in 1953, the 40-foot wonder, situated off of U.S. Highway 24, is added to each year during an annual event.

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Jennifer Olvera

Jennifer Olvera

Jennifer Olvera is a culinary travel writer, recipe developer and author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Chicago. Find her on Twitter at @olverajennifer.
Jennifer Olvera

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